THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

January 19, 2007

Raglan Sleeve Cap Height Alteration Tutorial

Filed under: Els,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Tutorials — Els @ 7:15 am

Some readers have asked how to make the alteration to a raglan sleeve that needs more cap height.

I used the sleeve from Vogue pattern 8146 that Mary Beth used in Critique by Els Muslin by Mary Beth

If a raglan sleeve shows diagonal wrinkles it needs more cap height. You can alter the pattern and add the amount you need to fill up this shortage of length which causes the diagonal wrinkles.

To measure how much sleeve cap height you need to add,(see diagonal sleeve wrinkles) undo the basting from the underarm sleeve and move the sleeve upwards with one hand ( higher at armpit) until you notice that the diagonal wrinkles are gone. Measure the amount you moved the sleeve upwards, from the stitch line at armpit towards the stitch line at sleeve underarm.

Mary Beth sent me a picture of the sleeve pattern she used,

I traced the pattern picture to use as an example for the alteration and marked the seam allowances,

Draw a line from the notch at the front and back sleeve arm scye towards the shoulder stitch line notch which indicates the end of the shoulder. Removed the seam allowances at the upper part of the sleeve pattern .

Slash the line from the shoulder notch towards the notch at arm scye back and front and add the amount you need,

You can see how the added length for the sleeve cap height differs from the original used pattern.

The red line shows the new altered raglan sleeve pattern, the blue line is the original one. The straight of grain needs to be lenghtened for the upper part as well as adding the seam allowances back on.


  1. Nice and clear tutorial, Els. I’m sure many people will find this helpful!

    Comment by Mary Beth — January 18, 2007 @ 11:06 pm

  2. As someone who really likes the raglan sleeve, I know I will use this one day! Thanks for the clear diagrams, els. I have bookmarked this post for later use!

    Comment by lorna — January 19, 2007 @ 12:12 pm

  3. What a great tutorial. Thanks Els!

    Comment by gorgeousthings — January 19, 2007 @ 12:33 pm

  4. Lucid and enlightening, as always, Els!

    Comment by phyllisc — January 19, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  5. Thanks for the graphic representation of the solution to a common problem. A picture is definitely worth 1000 words.

    Comment by georgene — January 20, 2007 @ 6:33 am

  6. Thanks Els! I love your diagrams – they’re always clear and you show every step. I will either mark this one or print it out for future reference.

    Comment by Summerset — January 20, 2007 @ 12:23 pm

  7. Thanks for posting this. I’ve tried to figure this out before (without success) and now I see where I made my mistake.

    Comment by Everyday Sewist — January 20, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

  8. I too appreciate your instruction. As a side note, can you tell me, when making a pattern, how to determine where to mark the striaght of the grainline on the pattern piece? I’m referring to a self drawn pattern, not a purchased pattern. I’ve been searching for this information forever. I drew a pants pattern for myself, which I love – but I’m quite certain my grainline if off. I’m stumped.

    Comment by Diane — January 26, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  9. That was most helpful! I am a visual learner, so drawings/photos really make the point for me.

    Comment by Linda L — January 27, 2007 @ 7:57 am

  10. How does that work for a raglan sleeve pattern that is one piece??

    Comment by April — November 22, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

  11. Please what happens if i want it puffed (gathered)

    Comment by Susan O — May 12, 2010 @ 8:01 am

    • Susan O: raglan sleeves can be puffed by redrafting so that darts in the saddle (the shoulder part) release over the shoulder point or sleeve cap area. You’ll have to play around with this idea until you get what you want as I have not seen commercial patterns for this design so I can’t point you to anything already drafted. Sorry!

      Comment by Mary Beth — May 13, 2010 @ 7:41 am

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